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Filmspotting Message Boards => Movie Talk => Directors => Topic started by: MartinTeller on October 26, 2010, 02:26:45 PM

Title: Naruse, Mikio
Post by: MartinTeller on October 26, 2010, 02:26:45 PM
1. Anzukko
2. Meshi
3. Late Chrysanthemums
4. Ukigumo
5. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs
6. Sudden Rain
7. Okaasan
8. Nagareru
9. Every Night Dreams
10. Morning's Tree-Lined Street
11. Yama no oto
12. Flunky, Work Hard!
13. Yearning
14. Apart From You
15. Ginza Cosmetics
16. White Beast
17. Street Without End
18. Both You and I
19. The Song Lantern
20. No Blood Relation
Title: Re: Director's Best: Mikio Naruse
Post by: Bill Thompson on October 26, 2010, 03:15:48 PM
None seen.
Title: Re: Director's Best: Mikio Naruse
Post by: pixote on October 26, 2010, 03:37:54 PM
I got nothing but vague interest. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs is one of the least compelling movie titles on my to-see list. It always makes me envision the movie as: "...she reaches the second floor. The End."

pixote
Title: Re: Director's Best: Mikio Naruse
Post by: oneaprilday on October 26, 2010, 03:39:02 PM
I got nothing but vague interest. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs is one of the least compelling movie titles on my to-see list. It always makes me envision the movie as: "...she reaches the second floor. The End."

pixote
You never know, she might trip.
Title: Re: Director's Best: Mikio Naruse
Post by: pixote on October 26, 2010, 03:40:12 PM
Conflict! Tension!

pixote
Title: Re: Director's Best: Mikio Naruse
Post by: sdedalus on October 26, 2010, 03:50:27 PM
Haven't seen any.

One of my top three auteur blindspots.
Title: Re: Director's Best: Mikio Naruse
Post by: ¡Keith! on October 26, 2010, 04:13:47 PM
blindspots.

awards for films we have not seen.  lets make this happen.
Title: Re: Director's Best: Mikio Naruse
Post by: sdedalus on October 26, 2010, 04:26:18 PM
Love it!
Title: Re: Director's Best: Mikio Naruse
Post by: roujin on October 26, 2010, 06:53:44 PM
Only seen When a Woman Ascends the Stairs :(
Title: Re: Director's Best: Mikio Naruse
Post by: Verite on October 26, 2010, 07:34:13 PM
A great storyteller of the place in women in Japanese society-- A Woman Ascends the Stairs explores the emotional terrain and class structure of the Ginza bar world and Flowing takes brings us into a struggling geisha house and what that means for the livelihood of the geishas and their daughters.  Heartbreaking stuff, I think, especially Flowing.
Title: Re: Director's Best: Mikio Naruse
Post by: Verite on October 26, 2010, 07:36:21 PM
Also, I think Setsuko Hara's best performances are in Naruse films not Ozu's.
Title: Re: Director's Best: Mikio Naruse
Post by: MartinTeller on October 26, 2010, 07:46:20 PM
Also, I think Setsuko Hara's best performances are in Naruse films not Ozu's.

I might agree with that.  She's so lovable in Ozu's movies though.
Title: Re: Director's Best: Mikio Naruse
Post by: Antares on March 18, 2011, 11:03:47 AM
Only seen When a Woman Ascends the Stairs :(

Me too

When a Woman Ascends the Stairs
Title: Re: Director's Best: Mikio Naruse
Post by: roujin on March 18, 2011, 11:48:59 AM
Haven't seen any.

One of my top three auteur blindspots.

Did we ever find out what the other ones were?
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: roujin on June 29, 2012, 02:21:34 PM
Wife! Be Like a Rose Mikio Naruse, 1935

the style here is a lot less mannered and intense than it was in Every Night Dreams from a couple of years earlier. story's about a young woman who's about to marry. however, in order to marry, she has to go get her father (who left them and has shacked up with a former geisha in a town in the mountains). the film is all dualities about the two families (city vs. country, but not really); about how the daughter views the make-shift family her father has made for himself, how they depend on him, even if he's kind of useless. there's this incredible scene where the father's other daughter overhears a conversation between the former geisha mother and the "girl from the city" that's just overwhelming in its emotions, the simplicity of its construction and execution, it's just amazing. looks like naruse is someone i need to check in with more.
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: sdedalus on June 29, 2012, 02:42:06 PM
Haven't seen any.

One of my top three auteur blindspots.

Did we ever find out what the other ones were?

I think it was S. Ray and RW Fassbinder.

Now it's only Fassbinder.
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: Totoro on August 29, 2012, 06:55:47 PM
I have only seen When a Woman Ascends the Stairs. I liked it, but didn't love it. I want to give Naruse another shot. What should I watch? I have Hulu+.
Title: Re: Director's Best: Mikio Naruse
Post by: MartinTeller on August 29, 2012, 06:57:05 PM
I have only seen When a Woman Ascends the Stairs. I liked it, but didn't love it. I want to give Naruse another shot. What should I watch? I have Hulu+.

1. Meshi
2. Ukigumo

Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: worm@work on January 01, 2013, 10:08:54 AM
(http://screenshots.cinemaontheroad.com/Stairsmain.png)
When a Woman Ascends the Stairs | Naruse | 1960

“Bars in the daytime are like women without makeup”.

This was so surprising in so many ways. For one, I wasn't expecting such a light touch from Naruse somehow. I went into it expecting something more akin to The Life of Oharu (which is a film I really like) but Naruse's handling of the material is quite different. Much of the film focuses on the quotidian details of Keiko's life in the ginza bar and outside and it is through these every day moments that the film builds up to the emotional punch of the last half hour.

I also love the way Naruse uses the widescreen compositions to emphasize the claustrophobic congested interiors of the bar as well as to hint at the modernity and freedom that the rare outdoor shots (train stations and bridges) seem to signal. I also wasn't really expecting that light jazzy soundtrack that works so well in the film. Such a lovely portrayal of life's quiet relentless disappointments.
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: sdedalus on January 01, 2013, 11:20:44 AM
Those are the two I've seen so far.  TSP Binge starts tonight.
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: worm@work on January 01, 2013, 11:24:20 AM
Those are the two I've seen so far.  TSP Binge starts tonight.
(http://www.corrierino.com/forum/images/smilies/icon14.gif)
Same for me!
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: roujin on January 01, 2013, 11:38:36 AM
So this is the next one, huh.
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: sdedalus on January 01, 2013, 11:39:52 AM
Well, I think originally it was supposed to be in late October. . .
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: worm@work on January 01, 2013, 11:53:15 AM
Yep, it's next and this stuff takes time :(. Patience!
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: MartinTeller on January 01, 2013, 01:44:49 PM
I'll listen to that, whenever it comes out.  Seen a bunch of Naruse, want to see a lot more.
Title: Re: Director's Best: Mikio Naruse
Post by: Verite on January 01, 2013, 04:52:31 PM
Also, I think Setsuko Hara's best performances are in Naruse films not Ozu's.

I still hold this opinion  8)
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: sdedalus on January 01, 2013, 04:58:17 PM
I don't think Setsuko Hara has gradations of performance: she is always great.
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: worm@work on January 02, 2013, 03:06:15 PM
(http://screenshots.cinemaontheroad.com/NBR.png)
No Blood Relations | Naruse | 1932

This one's a lot more overtly stylish than Flunky with all the zooms and just a generally super-active camera. The story is really melodramatic and full of coincidences but I didn't really care. I was just happy with the way he chooses to shoot the whole thing and that he's experimenting so much with what is essentially rather pedestrian material. All the stuff with the brother seemed random but again, I didn't really mind. It's not as sublime or perfect as Flunky, Work Hard or When a Woman Ascends but I still liked it.
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: MartinTeller on January 02, 2013, 03:11:37 PM
Yeah he gets really showy in that one, perhaps to take attention away from the subpar script.  I found the camerawork more distracting (and even annoying) than rewarding.
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: worm@work on January 02, 2013, 03:25:32 PM
Yeah he gets really showy in that one, perhaps to take attention away from the subpar script.  I found the camerawork more distracting (and even annoying) than rewarding.
Ha, I can see that being the case but I was just charmed, really. Maybe because it was so unexpected :)
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: sdedalus on January 02, 2013, 05:18:40 PM
The crazy push-ins are a bit excessive at times, but when the climactic push-out comes, it's almost worth it.

More amazing to me was the editing: inspired match-cuts all over the place, first in the wild chase sequence that opens the film (mirrored and inverted movements) then later in the film, using objects as pivots between locations: clocks a couple of times, a cigarette on the ground to an ashtray upstairs (recalling an early cut between the two crooks - one lights a cigarette, cut to the other inhaling it) and most poignantly near the end match-intercutting between the daughter and her step-mom as they lie in bed.  Absolute mastery of film technique.

There's a lot of other interesting things going on in terms of story structure as well.  Hoping to write in detail about this one at some point.
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: worm@work on January 03, 2013, 03:58:43 AM
More amazing to me was the editing: inspired match-cuts all over the place, first in the wild chase sequence that opens the film (mirrored and inverted movements) then later in the film, using objects as pivots between locations: clocks a couple of times, a cigarette on the ground to an ashtray upstairs (recalling an early cut between the two crooks - one lights a cigarette, cut to the other inhaling it) and most poignantly near the end match-intercutting between the daughter and her step-mom as they lie in bed.  Absolute mastery of film technique.

YES! I only really noticed the cigarette one and went back and rewatched some scenes after reading your writeup :). I should pay more attention to editing techniques. And yes, pls do a longer writeup.
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: sdedalus on January 05, 2013, 01:00:09 AM
This post (http://theendofcinema.blogspot.com/2013/01/on-no-blood-relation.html) on No Blood Relation got out of hand pretty quickly.
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: worm@work on January 06, 2013, 10:04:44 AM
(http://screenshots.cinemaontheroad.com/Apartfromyoumain.png)
Apart From You | Naruse | 1933
Oh God, I loved this. Again, the plot is pretty pedestrian and predictable and yet, I found it much more interesting than say, No Blood Relations. Maybe because it won me over very early on with that crazy opening sequence devoid of any of the main characters. We are thrown into the film via a chase scene on the streets full with disorienting segues to gags and then it cuts suddenly to the inside of a geisha house where also all we see is random scenes including a gorgeous surreal dream sequence. It's only after all this that we even get introduced to one of the major characters. Crazy but so fun.

I think the two things that really stand out for me about these early silents is Naruse's use of superimpositions to bring to life the inner lives and dreams of characters and his cutting technique (which I only started to pay proper attention to because of sdedalus's great essay on the editing in No Blood Relation.

But first those lovely superimpositions. One of my favorite ones occurs really early on in the film where one of the younger geishas is fantasizing about eating a warm bowl of ramen. She cups her hands and a bowl of ramen magically appears. Even that scene ends in tragedy as she drops the aforementioned magical bowl of soup but it's a lovely moment nevertheless.

(http://screenshots.cinemaontheroad.com/Noodles1.png) (http://screenshots.cinemaontheroad.com/Noodles2.png)

Another notable use of this is in the hospital scene where similar to the toy planes in Flunky, Work Hard, all of Terukiko's happiest moments from her trip back home with Yoshio come to life for a brief moment filling her face with this gorgeous sense of wistfulness.

(http://screenshots.cinemaontheroad.com/Hospdream1.png) (http://screenshots.cinemaontheroad.com/Hospdream2.png)

At least in these early films, Naruse often seems to use objects to cut between scenes and in this film in particular, he seems to use it frequently to draw parallels between characters and situations. A bottle or a bar of chocolate connects two different scenes. And that sense of disorientation I mentioned from the opening sequence continues in the rest of the film as well and I think it has a lot to do with Naruse's editing here wherein it takes a few seconds into a scene before we know where exactly we are and how much time has passed.

A scene where this type of rapid disorienting cutting works really really remarkably well is a scene in the geisha house where we are observing the actions taking place in two different rooms at the same time. The older geisha is with her patron drinking sake in one room while Terukiko and two other younger girls are entertaining a couple of patrons in the adjacent room. There are frequent extreme closeups to a rotating turntable and a film reel spinning on a projector. As Kikue takes out a razor either to stab herself or her patron, one of the geishas in the adjacent room breaks into a Spanish style dance. Her dance movements are intercut rapidly with the struggle between Kikue and her patron in the other room which is shot mostly in close-ups of their legs and their silhouettes on a room divider and their fight often resembles dancing. It's a great scene and a great setup for the violence that is to occur in the next scene.

I also love how that showy sequence is contrasted with the much more pastoral scenes in the train and Terukiko's hometown that seem so much more Ozu-like. It's also such a welcome respite from the crowded claustrophobia of the rest of the film. Also incredible is how well Naruse handles that scene at the end giving it just the right tinge of sadness and what could've been. The plot may be predictable but the quiet tragedy of it all still broke my heart. Just that look on Sumiko Mizukubo's face…
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: sdedalus on January 06, 2013, 11:02:29 AM
I liked how Naruse shifted focus between the three protagonists through the story.  First, we think it'll be about the mother and her sacrifices for her son.  Then we think it'll be about the son straightening up.  But in the end, it's about the girl and her sacrifice for her younger siblings.  It's also about how much men are just terrible, from the mother's sleazy "patron" (love the knife/dance scene you point out: the intercutting asserts geisha life as a form of suicide) to Terukiko's father (love the scene where Terukiko and he fight) to Yoshio, who looks like David Schwimmer and is just worthless, or at least not worth the things the women in his life go through for him and I love how Naruse exposes that: Terukiko goes on, he's left alone, crying, on the station platform.

And Sumiko Mizukubo is really, really pretty.
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: worm@work on January 06, 2013, 11:07:38 AM
It's also about how much men are just terrible, from the mother's sleazy "patron" (love the knife/dance scene you point out: the intercutting asserts geisha life as a form of suicide) to Terukiko's father (love the scene where Terukiko and he fight) to Yoshio, who looks like David Schwimmer and is just worthless, or at least not worth the things the women in his life go through for him and I love how Naruse exposes that: Terukiko goes on, he's left alone, crying, on the station platform.
Yeah, the men come off even worse in this film perhaps than the ones I/we have already seen? I love how cartoon-like the geisha house patrons are in the film :)

Quote
And Sumiko Mizukubo is really, really pretty.
OMG, yes. Her face is so radiant and those big eyes *swoon*
Makes the actor playing Yoshio look even worse than he would in isolation maybe :P
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: sdedalus on January 06, 2013, 11:08:38 AM
That, and he looks like David Schwimmer.
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: worm@work on January 06, 2013, 11:12:31 AM
That, and he looks like David Schwimmer.
;D
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: worm@work on January 06, 2013, 04:40:38 PM
(http://screenshots.cinemaontheroad.com/SWEmain.png)
Street Without End | Naruse | 1934

Yet again, the opening montage features none of the main characters or plot details. It's simply a gorgeous introduction to the city and its denizens. Rapid cuts between shots of anonymous passersby meeting on the street, peeking through shop windows, looking for jobs and so on. We are then thrown into a tea shop where we finally get introduced to the anonymous patrons first and then the key characters.

Already by now, I am used to random coincidences and accidents propelling the action forward in Naruse's films. Here it's two noteworthy car accidents that do the trick. But what really got me about the film is the way this inverts the films that came before it. It's pretty much a look at what might have happened had the geisha women from the previous films actually gotten what they wanted and managed to marry a rich upperclass patron. Sugiko's life after marriage is much worse than her life as a poor waitress. This is more a critique of bourgeois upper class regardless of gender and if anything, the women actually come off worse. I also love how the hospital scene with mother and son from the previous film is repeated here but has a whole different meaning and mood this time. I also really love how Sugiko is a great extension of Terukiko. She's another female character with lots of courage and agency and this time around, she's fighting to preserve her own happiness instead. Love the ending and the Lubitsch quoting in particular <3!!
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: worm@work on January 07, 2013, 12:52:50 PM
(http://screenshots.cinemaontheroad.com/WBLaRmain.png)
Wife! Be Like a Rose! | Naruse | 1935

Whoa! This is quite a huge leap from the silents and my favorite of the Naruse films I've seen so far. It starts off so breezy and light.. almost like a Hollywood or Bollywood rom-com from the 50s or something. The first surprise is the totally modern protagonist. Kimiko is such a departure from the other Naruse heroines I've seen with her modern attire  and her office job. Then there's  the cute banter between her and her boyfriend where they each pretend to be not as interested in the other as they really are. And Naruse devotes several moments to a straight up comedy sequence with the much-revered uncle's terrible singing upsetting it seems, even the caged birds in his home.

The film eventually kind of breaks into a city vs. country two-part structure but it's nowhere as simple as one simply being glorified over the other. In fact, on a moment by moment, scene by scene basis, the film constantly has us shifting our perceptions about these characters. In fact, even by contemporary standards, the ending feels rather radical. The film also works as a great portrait of the changes occurring in Japanese society. Despite the ending shot of Kimiko crying at her mother being left alone and her inability to reconcile her parents, to me the ending is ultimately hopeful. It symbolises Kimiko's growth and a break from the tragedies of the past.

Couple of scenes stand out in particular in a film that's pretty much perfect. One is the scene where Kimiko's step-sister overhears Kimiko talking to her mom. The sister can't hold back her tears but rather than dwell on her face, Naruse moves the camera outside the house allowing us to grapple with the hopelessness of the situation. And then there's the little tour Kimiko and her parents take in of the city. It's a gorgeous bittersweet scene. On the one hand, it shows Kimiko bonding with her father and has that lovely scene of Kimiko hailing a cab a la Clark Gable in It Happened One Night. But in 10 minutes or less, it also depicts everything that was wrong with her parents' marriage. Great film.
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: Sandy on January 07, 2013, 01:45:46 PM
Loving your reviews worm@work. My library has the following titles:

When a Woman Ascends the Stairs
Mother
Street Without End
Flunky, Work Hard
Apart From You



Which of these would you recommend as a good introduction?
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: worm@work on January 07, 2013, 01:59:50 PM
Loving your reviews worm@work. My library has the following titles:

When a Woman Ascends the Stairs
Mother
Street Without End
Flunky, Work Hard
Apart From You



Which of these would you recommend as a good introduction?

Thanks so much, Sandy :)! I'll go with When a Woman Ascends the Stairs. It's a lot more polished than his early silents and if I had to pick only one of those, that'd be the one. It's really lovely.
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: Verite on January 07, 2013, 02:04:27 PM
Really Great:
1. Flowing
2. Yearning
3. Late Chrysanthemums

Great:
4. Floating Clouds
5. Repast
6. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs
7. Street Without End
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: Sandy on January 07, 2013, 02:18:24 PM
Thanks!

Verite, who is your avatar?
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: worm@work on January 08, 2013, 04:34:07 PM
(http://screenshots.cinemaontheroad.com/MTLSmain.png)
Morning's Tree-Lined Street | Naruse | 1936

This one was alright but I've forgotten it almost as soon as I watched it :|. Chiba Sachiko is in this one as well and here she leaves her family in the countryside and comes to the city to work as a bar hostess in a relatively unhip/poor part of Tokyo, The portrait of the hostesses and their struggles with money and alcohol is pretty great but then the film turns really dramatic and we see Chiyo escaping with Ogawa dreaming of a better life and the film turns into some kind of crime drama where he's embezzled funds and asks her to commit suicide with him? And then that whole plot line is ruptured as well and while I get that the whole thing is meant to convey the precarious situation these women are placed in wherein they rely on weak men for their security, it all felt a bit silly to me. And Chiyo's naiveté regarding her profession struck me as rather odd as well. God, maybe I'm just in a bad mood today or something :|.
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: MartinTeller on January 08, 2013, 04:43:09 PM
It's okay to not like things :)  It helps us define what we do like.

I haven't seen that one yet.  I've got a ton of Naruse on my watchlist, I'll certainly get to at least of couple of them this year.
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: 1SO on January 08, 2013, 04:59:50 PM
It's okay to not like things :)  It helps us define what we do like.

Bookmarking this. I'm sure I'll be needing it.
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: MartinTeller on January 08, 2013, 05:05:04 PM
You didn't read the fine print


*it's not okay for 1SO to not like things
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: sdedalus on January 16, 2013, 06:46:27 PM
(http://i443.photobucket.com/albums/qq159/theendofcinema/cat3_thumb_zps36bd7edd.jpg)
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: worm@work on January 20, 2013, 11:23:05 AM
(http://screenshots.cinemaontheroad.com/Hidekomain.png)
Hideko, The Bus Conductress | Naruse | 1941

Just lovely, really. Probably the most subversive of all the Naruse films I've seen so far. There's so much jauntiness throughout, particularly at the beginning and the end but lurking underneath it all is some really dark criticism of a more modern capitalist Japan and so on. Whereas in his earlier films, the hospital scenes are used climactically, here Hideko's accident is not dwelt upon at all. She recovers almost miraculously. There's such a sweetness throughout (Hideko Takamine contributes a ton to that, no doubt) and that just makes the ending even more tragic to me. It reads like a personal triumph perhaps but I can't help but think it's all going to be rather short-lived.
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: worm@work on January 20, 2013, 09:23:56 PM
(http://screenshots.cinemaontheroad.com/ginza.png)
Ginza Cosmetics | Naruse | 1951
This feels transitional or something. It's quite unlike his silents and is plotwise similar to When a Woman Ascends the Stairs but doesn't quite reach those heights. Some really lovely scenes like the scene where they're discussing the stars stand out but the rest just feels forgettable somehow. Too early to tell but its possible that I just like silent Naruse better!
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: sdedalus on January 21, 2013, 12:42:21 AM
I'll be surprised if that opinion holds up after the next few movies.
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: worm@work on January 21, 2013, 01:30:23 PM
(http://screenshots.cinemaontheroad.com/lightning.png)
Lightning | Naruse | 1952
This was lovely. Once again, Naruse buries some real dark, despairing stuff underneath what feels like a breezy film. The conflicts are more overt here than in say, Hideko, The Bus Conductress but he constantly deflates these with moments of lightness. One of my favorite scenes in the film is when we see Kiyoko's friend's brother hanging up the laundry and these three young people just get to have this moment of joy and hope. Great film.
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: worm@work on January 22, 2013, 09:51:45 AM
(http://screenshots.cinemaontheroad.com/OBYSmain.png)
Older Brother, Younger Sister | Naruse | 1953

I take back what I said about preferring his silents. Lightning and this one are probably my top 2 from him now! This one is likely the most visually striking and assured of all the ones I've seen so far. Just these gorgeous long-shots of the interiors of the house that seem mostly benign but ultimately and gradually reveal so much rage and conflict. Also, this is the first film of his where there's actual violence, I think? And that family tussle towards the end in particular is so great - so meticulous the way every character is framed and moves around. And I love how there are so many interludes to the river in the village especially with that candle festival at the end. And one of the things I keep coming back to with his films is just how resilient his female characters are. That's what makes all these endings so bittersweet. They just smile and go on. Heartbreaking stuff.
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: sdedalus on January 22, 2013, 10:50:34 AM
I knew it!
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: worm@work on January 22, 2013, 01:48:55 PM
(http://screenshots.cinemaontheroad.com/repastmain.png)
Repast | Naruse | 1951

I should just stop trying to maintain a ranking for these but this is definitely the one I've had the most emotional response to so far. Firstly, I just already have such an attachment to Setsuko Hara from watching all those Ozu films last year. But I think it's also because Hara's character is much more contemporary and relatable. It's not just socioeconomic circumstances that keep her from happiness but rather that her own desires are inchoate and transient. Her character here reminds me of Sirk's heroines. There's also such detail in capturing life in that suburb - the neighbors, the wife running after the husband who forgot his lunch, the kids playing on the street. And the couple's meeting in Tokyo reminded me of Viaggio in Italia (not necessarily in the interpretation but more in the way it's staged during the parade and happens almost anti-climactically). But more than anything else, the film is all about the sadness lurking in Hara's eyes. Most feelings are ephemeral. Loneliness is all there is :|.

sdedalus, qsn about the ending..

Did you read it as optimistic or ambiguous at all? Am asking because I read a few reviews that seem to think it's hopeful etc. I found it all so unambiguously sad myself. She starts to tell him about the letter she wrote and all he can do is fall asleep :| Everything in that voice-over just reeks of compromise to me. The lies we tell ourselves in order to survive. She doesn't see an alternative but to go back to her life with him. Or maybe I'm just that much of a cynic :(.
 
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: sdedalus on January 22, 2013, 01:58:24 PM
Yeah, I saw it the same way.
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: MartinTeller on January 22, 2013, 02:03:58 PM
I know you didn't ask me ( :( ) but I felt the same too.  Definitely more sad than hopeful to me, but there is room for ambiguity.
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: worm@work on January 22, 2013, 02:10:36 PM
I know you didn't ask me ( :( )
Awww, but thank you so much for responding! I just mentioned sdedalus by name coz I was almost continuing our discussion about the film on twitter a few minutes ago.

Quote from: MartinTeller
Definitely more sad than hopeful to me, but there is room for ambiguity.

It's a stunning ending sequence but I just found the whole thing heartbreaking. I also love how Naruse avoids painting the husband as an outright villain. He's just a different, more pragmatic, less sensitive person than Hara's character... unsuited for her mostly :(
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: worm@work on January 22, 2013, 07:44:55 PM
(http://screenshots.cinemaontheroad.com/SoTM.png)
Sound of the Mountain | Naruse | 1954

I thought the family dynamics in Older Brother, Younger Sister were messed up but this just takes it to a whole other level. Initially, watching it right after Repast, this kept feeling like an inferior version of that movie. I think it had a lot to do with Naruse shifting the PoV on this to the Shingo character here. Plus, all the drama here felt more overwrought to me and I didn't really care what happened to the sister or the mistress and why are they on screen instead of Hara etc etc... I get that it's to portray a spectrum of women's position in Japanese society and such.. but whatevs. But then, the focus shifts back to Hara and then there's that utterly incredible ending scene in the park that's just this gorgeously choreographed push and pull between these two characters. I still like Repast better perhaps but this is the best ending I've seen from him.
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: sdedalus on January 22, 2013, 07:47:48 PM
Nice. I too, whenever Setsuko Hara is not on-screen, am saying "where's Hara? What's she up to? Why aren't we watching her?"
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: worm@work on January 22, 2013, 07:55:55 PM
And Ken Uehara is good. I mean, I hate his character but he's a good actor.
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: sdedalus on January 22, 2013, 08:29:57 PM
I don't know how many movies (if any) I've seen him in before, but I really like him in these Naruses.
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: sdedalus on January 26, 2013, 02:29:05 AM
These are really hard to rank:

1. Repast
2. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs
3. Yearning
4. Wife! Be Like a Rose!
5. The Sound of the Mountain
6. Flowing
7. Apart from You
8. Scattered Clouds
9. No Blood Relation
10. Every Night Dreams
11. Floating Clouds
12. Mother
13. Street Without End
14. Ginza Cosmetics
15. Wife
16. Late Chrysanthemums
17. Flunky, Work Hard
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: worm@work on February 23, 2013, 03:15:29 PM
sdedalus and two other good cinephile friends speak eloquently about naruse while i giggle a lot..
http://theyshotpictures.com/they-shot-pictures-ep-11-mikio-naruse/
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: Sandy on February 23, 2013, 05:45:04 PM
sdedalus and two other good cinephile friends speak eloquently about naruse while i giggle a lot..
http://theyshotpictures.com/they-shot-pictures-ep-11-mikio-naruse/

Just finished your podcast. :) After your great recommendation for When a Woman Ascends the Stairs, I wanted to hear more. I wasn't following the voices very well, but I think it was Slayton who sold me on Yearning, with Sean backing him up regarding the ending. (I might have them turned around.) I'll see if I can find a copy. Thanks for putting together that discussion.
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: worm@work on February 23, 2013, 05:53:40 PM
Thank you so so much for listening, Sandy :) Yearning is totally worth your time and I think Naruse is a filmmaker likely to appeal to a lot of filmspotters.
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: worm@work on February 23, 2013, 05:54:35 PM
and y, I get all the sexy voices mixed up as well :P
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: Sandy on February 23, 2013, 06:33:00 PM
 :D
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: sdedalus on February 23, 2013, 07:43:34 PM
I'm the one who sounds old.
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: Sandy on February 23, 2013, 10:38:37 PM
I'm the one who sounds old.

Your old is my youth. :D
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: sdedalus on February 24, 2013, 12:53:56 AM
I do not doubt that.
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: sdedalus on February 24, 2013, 12:39:44 PM
Hmmm. . . no.
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: Totoro on December 15, 2013, 05:41:34 AM
When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (B)
Scattered Clouds (B)

I am pretty amBivalent to him.
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: roujin on March 21, 2014, 01:38:11 PM
Floating Clouds was pretty excellent. Need to explore more Hideko Takamine goodness.
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: MartinTeller on July 16, 2014, 09:17:19 PM
worm pretty much hit the nail on the head regarding this one...


(http://i.imgur.com/HYNP7F2.png)

Ginza Cosmetics - Don't feel much like writing tonight, and I don't have a lot to say about this one anyway.  The plot concerns an aging bar hostess named Yukiko (Kinuyo Tanaka) trying to make ends meet and support her young son Haruo (Yoshihiro Nishikubo).  It's pretty standard stuff for Naruse, and he would tackle similar subject matter much more effectively in films like Late Chrysanthemums and When a Woman Ascends the Stairs.  Here, his restraint is too suffocating and the film feels a bit flat and lifeless.  Sometimes you have to let a melodrama be melodramatic.  However, Tanaka (a regular for both Naruse and Mizoguchi) is quite good, as usual.  The most interesting thing about the movie is how flawed her character is.  She lies to her best friend Shizue (Ranko Hanai) and her willingness to put Haruo in the care of other bar employees (or more often, let him fend for himself) makes her more complex than the usual long-suffering mother who sacrifices everything for her child.

The best section of the movie comes in the third act, when Shizue asks Yukiko to look after her "true love" (Yûji Hori) for a couple of days while she tends to a client.  It's only at this point that we get a real feel for what Yukiko has given up, the lost potential as her education and natural intelligence are wasted.  Otherwise, the film is certainly competent and even mildly engaging, but too bland to be of much interest outside of diehard Naruse fanatics.  Rating: Good (70)
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: jascook on July 22, 2014, 10:15:17 AM
No Blood Relation: 7/10
Flunky, Work Hard!: 6/10
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: MartinTeller on October 04, 2014, 06:15:19 PM
(http://i.imgur.com/4GeB5mC.png)

Yearning - Reiko (Hideko Takamine) lost her husband in the war, after only 6 months of marriage.  Nonetheless, she has devoted her life to her in-laws: mother Shizu (Aiko Mamasu), sisters Hisako (Mitsuko Kusabue) and Takako (Yumi Shirakawa) and brother Koji (Yûzô Kayama).  It was Reiko who rebuilt the family's grocery store when it was bombed.  18 years later, Hisako and Takako are out of the house and Koji is a lazy drunk who spends his time gambling and skirt chasing, so it's Reiko who runs the store.  But now supermarkets are popping up, luring customers away from the family store.  As the family tries to restructure their business, the business threatens to restructure the family.

Sometimes you just don't connect with a movie.  Although this appears to be one of Naruse's most well-regarded films, it started to lose me the more it went on.  I got more and more frustrated with Reiko, and frustration became annoyance.  The ending which some call "devastating" struck me mostly as cheap, stupid and meaningless.  The final shot is compelling, thanks primarily to the expressiveness of Takamine's face, but I wasn't moved by Reiko's situation.  Maybe there comes a point where you've seen so many movies about Japanese women repressing their feelings that it stops being a touching, tragic scenario.

Takamine is really good, though, and Kayama is great at these unlikable douchebags who manage to show another side of themselves (see also: Red Beard).  The camerawork is thoughtful, the telling compositions very typical for Naruse.  Also typical for Naruse is the focus on economic detail, and I was quite interested in the grocery business... more so than the emotions being churned up in the second act (the film's Japanese title is "Midareru", which most closely translates to "Turmoil" than "Yearning").

I wish this picture had the impact on me that it seems to have on other Naruse fans.  Perhaps on another day I'd have gotten more out of it.  Rating: Good (73)
Title: Re: Naruse Mikio - Director's Best
Post by: roujin on October 19, 2014, 02:27:11 PM
1. Wife! Be Like a Rose! (1935)
2. Floating Clouds (1955)
3. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (1960)
4. Every Night Dreams (1933)
Title: Re: Naruse, Mikio
Post by: 1SO on August 04, 2019, 03:20:46 PM
1. Repast
2. Floating Clouds
3. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs
4. Late Chrysanthemums
Title: Re: Naruse, Mikio
Post by: 1SO on August 04, 2019, 03:26:10 PM
Repast (1951)
★ ★ ★ - Okay
I don’t know how much attention was given to female characters in Japanese cinema at this time, but it seems novel, while no more progressive than a 1940s Hollywood film starring Joan Crawford. The subject matter is like a melodrama with most of the melodrama removed. I find myself drawn to script while searching for some style in the direction. Ozu’s non-style was his style, so I don’t know how to refer to this.

I’m glad this thread talks about the ending because I was reading it the same way as Martin, worm and sdedalus. Something of a fake smile to Michiyo’s final happiness.


Late Chrysanthemums (1954)
★ ★
”The problems of … little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.” This kept running through my head as I watched. Why these people? What makes their story an interesting one to tell? There are former Geishas, but it’s no more exotic than a retired actress or older model. A number of conversations center around the cost of living, and if this was all they talked about it might be an intriguing formal choice. Most things are related to money, but there are other conversations too. This film doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.


Floating Clouds (1955)
★ ★ ½
After feeling I've been unsuccessful at appreciating Naruse, I gave the thread a thorough read and this conversation (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=9160.msg714522#msg714522) about No Blood Relations made me wonder if I would be more into his early stylish flourishes. I liked how the transitions between time periods here used lighting in a clever way. That the story never grabbed me could be that watching three Naruse films in a week was at least one too many.
Title: Re: Naruse, Mikio
Post by: Knocked Out Loaded on August 07, 2019, 03:52:36 PM
When A Woman Ascends The Stairs , 30˚